Panther pair grind way to titles
During Chris Falardo’s freshman season of wrestling, his only wins came by forfeit. At Saturday’s Jeffersonville Sectional, the Corydon Central senior’s four years of hard work paid off, as he became a 135-pound sectional champion.
‘When he was a freshman and during his sophomore year, no one would have ever thought he could win a sectional,’ Corydon Central coach Richard Clipp said.
In the championship match, Falardo led early against Floyd Central’s Garret Blackman, scoring on a takedown in the first period. Falardo maintained advantage through the rest of the match, winning by decision, 6-4.
‘That rocked,’ Falardo said. ‘To stay ahead was tough. I was able to keep the lead, but that was one of the toughest matches I’ve ever had.’
Falardo had to win the match wearing a face guard, to protect further injury to a broken nose he sustained in his semi-final match. During the semi-finals, Falardo shut out New Albany’s Cody Kessinger, 4-0. At the final horn, Kessinger caught Falardo with an elbow, forcing the New Albany wrestler’s disqualification.
‘I did it with a broken nose,’ Falardo said of winning the championship. ‘I had trouble when I backed up, seeing where I was during the match.’
Falardo improved to 19-3 on the season and prepares for his second shot at regional, after qualifying last season.
‘He’s kind of unorthodox and oddly built,’ Clipp said of Falardo. ‘He always has leverage (during a match). It took him six years to get it down, but he did.’
Clipp credits Falardo’s efforts in winning close matches this season. During the Mid-Southern Conference meet the week before, Falardo pulled out a close win at the last second.
‘He has won a lot of matches 3-2, 4-3,’ Clipp said. ‘Those decisions, I think, brought him a lot of confidence.’
Falardo admited his journey was long to become a sectional champion.
‘It takes heart, and that is what I have the most,’ he said.
Falardo wasn’t the only Panther to win an individual sectional title.
Senior Ryan Hutchinson (18-2) defeated the lone undefeated wrestler in the tournament, Eddie Duran, to win the 125-pound class.
Duran, from Charlestown, entered the finals with a perfect 33-0 record. The two hooked up in one of the toughest matches of the championship round.
Duran scored early with a takedown, but an escape and a one-point Duran penalty tied the match, 2-2. During the second period, Hutchinson was able to keep advantage of Duran, not allowing an escape through the two minutes.
In the third period, Duran allowed Hutchinson to square off face to face, giving up a point to the Corydon Central senior. Hutchinson never allowed Duran to gain momentum. Late in the match, Hutchinson scored a takedown, leading to a 5-3 victory.
‘It was a close match,’ Clipp said. ‘A lot of things happened on the edge. Six inches this way or six inches that way, it could have been a different outcome. Both wrestled hard and showed good sportsmanship, which is what you’re supposed to do.’
Hutchinson was a state qualifier last year at 112, and Duran did the same at 119.
‘I don’t like to give up at all,’ Hutchinson said of his championship match. ‘Some people seemed to think I was stalling (during the match), but Duran is a really good kid that held his own to where I couldn’t really do much. I was trying to work some stuff, but he was working his (moves) hard back. It ended up being like a stalemate.’
It was the first meeting between the two this season, because Hutchinson has dealt with various injuries.
‘A lot of people thought I was dodging him early in the year, but I wasn’t,’ Hutchinson said. ‘It actually helped get me real pumped up because I’m not scared of anybody. The match either goes one way or the other, and I’ve been there and done that.’
Hutchinson defeated New Albany’s Tim Martin 9-7 in the semi-finals.
Corydon Central wrestler Matthew LaHue also reached the finals at the Jeffersonville Sectional. The freshman lost 5-1 to Jeffersonville’s Alonzo Shepherd in the championship of the 103-pound class.
‘LaHue didn’t wrestle badly; he just got out-wrestled,’ Clipp said.
LaHue (25-9) reached the finals after defeating Floyd Central’s Logan Kelly, 8-2, in the semi-finals. With the second-place finish, LaHue moves on to regional.
Also advancing to regional was Corydon Central sophomore Ryan DeWitt. He narrowly pulled out a 1-0 decision in the losers’ bracket over New Albany’s Jacob Mudd to qualify. DeWitt (21-16) later lost to Charlestown’s Cameron Metzger, 5-1, in the third-place match.
Corydon Central finished sixth (117) among 10 teams. Jeffersonville finished first with 293.5 points, and Floyd Central took second with 275.
Other Panthers with respectable finishes include junior Jackson Fowler (fifth place, 130 pounds), junior Matthew Seelye (sixth, 152) and Patrick Green (sixth, 160).
Falardo, Hutchinson, LaHue and DeWitt advance to the Jeffersonville Regional, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m. The top-four place winners in each weight class advance to the semi-state tournament on Feb. 14 at Evansville Reitz.
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Team results ‘ 1. Jeffersonville 293, 2. Floyd Central 275, 3. Charlestown 232.5, 4. Providence 187, 5. New Albany 162, 6. Corydon Central (117), 7. New Washington 67, 8. Christian Academy 64, 9. Salem 31, 10. Eastern (Pekin) 27.5.
Individual results ‘ 103: Shepherd (Jeff) dec. LaHue (CC), 5-1; 112: Smith (J) pinned Wolf (Ch), 1:13; 119: Stotridge (Ch) maj. dec. Miller (J), 9-1; 125: Hutchinson (CC) dec. Duran (Ch), 5-3; 130: Walker (J) maj. dec. Salguero (P), 11-2; 135: Falardo (CC) dec. Blackman (FC), 6-4; 140: Murphy (FC) pinned Hughes (P), 5:53; 145: Newcomb (Ch) dec. Moberly (FC), 3-2; 152: Emerson (FC) pinned Sampson (NW), 4:57; 160: Golembeski (P) pinned Daugherty (Ch), 4:57; 171: McAndrew (FC) dec. Browner (J), 7-5; 189: Cook (P) pinned McKinney (FC), 1:07; 215: Tatgenhorst (J) maj. dec. Davidson (P), 12-3; 285: Clark (J) pinned Traughber (FC), 1:53.